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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The Life of Kingsley Amis

by

The Life of Kingsley Amis Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"In this astonishingly fine and serious book, which by no means skips the elements of scandal and salacity, Zachary Leader has struck a near-ideal balance between the life and the work, and has traced the filiations between the two without any strain or pretension....Zachary Leader's wonderful book shows us both [sides of Amis], as it illustrates the rival processes of composition and decomposition." Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)

"[A] monumentally thorough biography....Zachary Leader has done a truly wonderful job of assembling the multifarious and contradictory elements that went to make up this mischievous, self-destructive chameleon of a novelist..." Peter Green, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Here is the authorized, definitive biography of one of the most controversial figures of twentieth-century literature, renowned for his blistering intelligence, savage wit and belligerent fierceness of opinion. Kingsley Amis was not only the finest comic novelist of his generation — having first achieved prominence with the publication of Lucky Jim in 1954 and as one of the Angry Young Men — but also a dominant figure in post—World War II British writing as novelist, poet, critic and polemicist.

In The Life of Kingsley Amis, Zachary Leader, acclaimed editor of The Letters of Kingsley Amis, draws not only on unpublished works and correspondence but also on interviews with a wide range of Amis's friends, relatives, fellow writers, students and colleagues, many of whom have never spoken out before. The result is a compulsively readable account of Amis's childhood, school days and life as a student at Oxford, teacher, critic, political and cultural commentator, professional author, husband, father and lover. Even as he makes the case for Amis's cultural centrality — at his death Time magazine claimed that "the British decades between 1955 and 1995 should in fairness be called 'the Amis era'" — Leader explores the writer's phobias, self-doubts and ambitions; the controversies in which he was embroiled; and the role that drink played in a life bedeviled by erotic entanglements, domestic turbulence and personal disaster.

Dazzling for its thoroughness, psychological acuity and elegant style, The Life of Kingsley Amis is exemplary: literary biography at its very best.

Review:

"Leader delivers a scrupulously researched and unfailingly entertaining account of the life of one of postwar Britain's funniest and most famous writers. Amis (1922 — 1995) asserted that many writers lead dull lives, but his was especially high-spirited, particularly once he left his restrictive parents for Oxford and beyond. Known first as a poet, Amis began an academic career in Wales at University College of Swansea after marrying Hilary Bardwell (mother of his three children, including contemporary British writer Martin Amis), but his springboard to literary celebrity was the 1954 publication of the comic classic Lucky Jim. Leader (editor, 2001's The Letters of Kingsley Amis) combines exhaustive biographical detail with trenchant literary analysis for a complex, remarkable portrait of Amis and his work: his prodigious output (more than 40 books, including novels, poetry, anthologies and nonfiction), his notorious womanizing and boozing as well as his friendships, including his central relationship (illuminated by lively excerpts of correspondence) with poet Philip Larkin. This massive, splendid biography bears out Leader's contention that Amis was 'a compelling person, a man of alarming appetites and energies, the funniest man most people had ever met, or the cleverest, or the rudest.' 24 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Modesty scarcely was Kingsley Amis' long suit, so perhaps it is appropriate that neither is modesty the long suit of Zachary Leader, a British academic who has written, in his gargantuan 'Life of Kingsley Amis,' what amounts to the official biography of the late novelist, humorist, journalist and television talking head. According to Leader, this biography 'shows what it was like to meet Amis and... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"This is one big, fat, and fascinating biography of Kingsley Amis....[E]ven those who don't read every word will be riveted by the twists and turns of Amis' wild ride through life, and by Leader's deft way of connecting the life to the work." Booklist

Review:

"A fastidious effort to portray the mighty Kingsley in his full glory." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Do not be put off by the sheer bulk of Zachary Leader's massive new biography: Its nearly 1,000 pages contain all sorts of splendid things about Kingsley Amis, his life and his works....Love Amis or hate him, know nothing about him or cannot know too much, this book should not be missed." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Extremely well told, The Life of Kingsley Amis will meet the expectations and probably exceed the ambitions of most readers." Chicago Sun-Times

Review:

"Respectful of Amis and of all who became part of the story through their association with him, Mr. Leader fulfills his mission: honestly telling the history that explains the books." Wall Street Journal

Book News Annotation:

This comprehensive biography of British comic novelist Kingsley Amis (1922-1995) draws on interviews with those who knew him, his fiction and poetry, memoirs, and letters to describe his life. Leader (English literature, U. of Roehampton, UK) uses six themes to construct the narrative: the influence of his early upbringing, aggression in his character and writings, his energy, his sense of writing as craft or profession, his issues with distinctions between high and low culture and love of popular forms, and his obsession with egotism, selfishness, and inconsiderateness. He also discusses his writing methods and the relationship of his writings to his contemporaries. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

In this, the authorized biography, Zachary Leader argues that Kingsley Amis was not only the finest comic novelist of his generation, but the dominant figure of post-war British writing. Drawing not only on interviews with a range of Amis's friends, relatives, fellow writers, students and colleagues, many of them never before consulted, but also on almost a thousand previously unpublished letters, Leader's biography will for the first time give a full picture of Amis's childhood, school-days, life as a teacher, critic, polemicist, professional author, husband, father and lover. He explores Amis's fears and phobias, and the role that drink played in his life. And of course he pays due attention to Amis's work.

Synopsis:

In this authorized biography, Leader argues that Amis was not only the finestcomic novelist of his generation, but the dominant figure of post-war Britishwriting. Covering the entirety of Amis's life, this book has the potential to surprise, entertain, and illuminate.

About the Author

Zachary Leader is a professor of English literature at Roehampton University in England. Among his books are studies of Romantic poetry and modern British fiction. Leader edited The Letters of Kingsley Amis ("One of the last major monuments of the epistolary art." — The Sunday Telegraph).

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375424984
Author:
Leader, Zachary
Publisher:
Pantheon
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Historical - British
Subject:
Novelists, English
Subject:
Critics
Subject:
Novelists, English -- 20th century.
Subject:
Critics - Great Britain
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Copyright:
Publication Date:
April 24, 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
24 PPS BandW ILLUSTRATIONS
Pages:
1008
Dimensions:
9.46x6.12x2.04 in. 3.05 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Life of Kingsley Amis Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 1008 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375424984 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Leader delivers a scrupulously researched and unfailingly entertaining account of the life of one of postwar Britain's funniest and most famous writers. Amis (1922 — 1995) asserted that many writers lead dull lives, but his was especially high-spirited, particularly once he left his restrictive parents for Oxford and beyond. Known first as a poet, Amis began an academic career in Wales at University College of Swansea after marrying Hilary Bardwell (mother of his three children, including contemporary British writer Martin Amis), but his springboard to literary celebrity was the 1954 publication of the comic classic Lucky Jim. Leader (editor, 2001's The Letters of Kingsley Amis) combines exhaustive biographical detail with trenchant literary analysis for a complex, remarkable portrait of Amis and his work: his prodigious output (more than 40 books, including novels, poetry, anthologies and nonfiction), his notorious womanizing and boozing as well as his friendships, including his central relationship (illuminated by lively excerpts of correspondence) with poet Philip Larkin. This massive, splendid biography bears out Leader's contention that Amis was 'a compelling person, a man of alarming appetites and energies, the funniest man most people had ever met, or the cleverest, or the rudest.' 24 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "In this astonishingly fine and serious book, which by no means skips the elements of scandal and salacity, Zachary Leader has struck a near-ideal balance between the life and the work, and has traced the filiations between the two without any strain or pretension....Zachary Leader's wonderful book shows us both [sides of Amis], as it illustrates the rival processes of composition and decomposition." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"Review A Day" by , "[A] monumentally thorough biography....Zachary Leader has done a truly wonderful job of assembling the multifarious and contradictory elements that went to make up this mischievous, self-destructive chameleon of a novelist..." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "This is one big, fat, and fascinating biography of Kingsley Amis....[E]ven those who don't read every word will be riveted by the twists and turns of Amis' wild ride through life, and by Leader's deft way of connecting the life to the work."
"Review" by , "A fastidious effort to portray the mighty Kingsley in his full glory."
"Review" by , "Do not be put off by the sheer bulk of Zachary Leader's massive new biography: Its nearly 1,000 pages contain all sorts of splendid things about Kingsley Amis, his life and his works....Love Amis or hate him, know nothing about him or cannot know too much, this book should not be missed."
"Review" by , "Extremely well told, The Life of Kingsley Amis will meet the expectations and probably exceed the ambitions of most readers."
"Review" by , "Respectful of Amis and of all who became part of the story through their association with him, Mr. Leader fulfills his mission: honestly telling the history that explains the books."
"Synopsis" by , In this, the authorized biography, Zachary Leader argues that Kingsley Amis was not only the finest comic novelist of his generation, but the dominant figure of post-war British writing. Drawing not only on interviews with a range of Amis's friends, relatives, fellow writers, students and colleagues, many of them never before consulted, but also on almost a thousand previously unpublished letters, Leader's biography will for the first time give a full picture of Amis's childhood, school-days, life as a teacher, critic, polemicist, professional author, husband, father and lover. He explores Amis's fears and phobias, and the role that drink played in his life. And of course he pays due attention to Amis's work.
"Synopsis" by , In this authorized biography, Leader argues that Amis was not only the finestcomic novelist of his generation, but the dominant figure of post-war Britishwriting. Covering the entirety of Amis's life, this book has the potential to surprise, entertain, and illuminate.
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